Updated: Apple TV Streaming Quietly Goes International

Back in August, we wrote about how Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) had started to offer U.S.-based users of its Apple TV device the ability to stream shows purchased from iTunes via Apple’s iCloud. Now it looks as if that service is becoming available internationally.

Apple has not made news of its new streaming capabilities official yet, but people have spotted the service working in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Update: As you might expect with something that has not been officially announced, there have been some patchy reports of this service not actually working consistently in these markets. We will update this post as we learn more.

As with the updated service from earlier this year, now Apple TV users are able to download films directly from their televisions from iTunes, as well as access shows that had been purchased via iTunes previously from another device such as an iPad.

With Apple yet to announce the service internationally officially, there may be more markets being added.

The news comes on the heels of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) announcing updates to its own Xbox gaming and media platform and points to how companies like Microsoft and Apple are competing as much on technology as they are content in their offerings. Microsoft’s update this week included a new voice-based search facility for users of the Kinect for Xbox 360 to find games, films and other content in a user’s own library, as well as items available through the Xbox Live cloud-based system.

But content is significant, too, and Mircrosoft also announced a number of deals to expand its offerings in various markets: they include adding Lovefilm from Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Hulu in Japan with Hulu Plus in the U.S., as well as Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) and even Verizon’s FiOS TV service. The full content list is here.

In contrast, Apple’s list of non-Apple Garden partners is significantly smaller, consisting of Netflix, MLB, NBA and NHL content, and internet-based aggregators like YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) and Vimeo. A rumored deal for Hulu Plus has yet to come good, and outside the U.S. the list of non-Apple content is very thin indeed, with only MLB and the internet-based content on offer.

With Microsoft’s upgrade arguably more substantial than Apple’s, it puts the ball back in Apple’s court for what it might come up with next: some believe it might be a new take on the TV altogether.